What Is Cement? Manufacturing, Composition & their Functions

What Is Cement? Manufacturing, Constituents & their Functions

Material with adhesive and cohesive  properties. Any material that binds or unites  – essentially like glue

Cement Clinkers
Cement Clinkers

Function Of Cement

  1. to bind the sand and coarse aggregate together
  2.  to fill voids in between sand and coarse  aggregate particle
  3.  to form a compact mass

Types of Cement

2 types of cement normally used in building industry are as follows:

  1. a) Hydraulic Cement
  2. b) Nonhydraulic Cement

Hydraulic Cement

Hydraulic Cement sets and  hardens by action of water. Such as Portland Cement

In other words it means that hydraulic  cement are:

“ Any cements that turns into a solid product  in the presence of water (as well as air) resulting in a material that does not disintegrate in water.”

Non-hydraulic Cement

Any cement that does not require water to transform it into a solid product.



2 common Non-hydraulic Cement are

  1. a) Lime – derived from limestone / chalk
    b) Gypsum
    Portland Cement – constituents of cement

Chemical composition of Portland Cement:

  1. a) Tricalcium Silicate (50%)
  2. b) Dicalcium Silicate  (25%)
  3. c) Tricalcium Aluminate (10%)
  4. d) Tetracalcium Aluminoferrite (10%)
  5. e) Gypsum (5%)

Functions of Tricalcium Silicate

  1. Hardens rapidly and largely responsible for initial set & early strength
  2.  The increase in percentage of this compound will cause the early strength of Portland Cement to be higher.
  3. A higher percentage of this compound will produces higher heat of hydration and accounts for faster gain in strength.

Functions of Dicalcium Silicate

  1. Hardens slowly
  2. It effects on strength increases occurs at ages beyond one week .
  3. Responsible for long term strength

Functions of Tricalcium Aluminate

  1. Contributes to strength development in the first few days because it is the first compound to hydrate .
  2. It turns out higher heat of hydration and contributes to faster gain in strength.
  3. But it results in poor sulfate resitance and increases the volumetric shrinkage upon drying.
  4. Cements with low Tricalcium Aluminate contents usually generate less heat, develop  higher strengths and show greater resistance to sulfate attacks.
  5. It has high heat generation and reactive with   soils and water containing moderate to high sulfate concentrations so it’s least desirable.

Function of Tetracalcium Aluminoferrite

  1. Assist in the manufacture of Portland Cement by allowing lower clinkering temperature.
  2.  Also act as a filler contributes very little strength of concrete eventhough it hydrates very rapidly.
  3.  Also responsible for grey colour of Ordinary Portland Cement

Manufacturing Of Portland Cement

The 3 primary constituents of the raw  materials used in the manufacture of  Portland Cement are:

  1. a) Lime
    b) Silica
    c) Alumina

Lime is derived from limestone or chalk

Silica & Alumina from clay, shale or bauxite


There are 2 chief aspects  of the manufacturing process:

To produce a finely divided mixture of raw materials – chalk / limestone and clay / shale


To heat this mixture to produce chemical composition

There 2 main process that can be used in manufacturing of Portland Cement that is

  1. i) wet process        ii) dry process


Rotary Kiln

Rotary Kiln

Raw materials are homogenized by crushing, grinding and blending so that approximately 80% of the raw material pass a No.200 sieve. The mix will be turned into form of slurry by adding 30 – 40% of water. It is then  heated to about 2750ºF (1510ºC) in horizontal revolving kilns (76-153m length and 3.6-4.8m in diameter. Natural gas, petroluem or coal are used for burning. High fuel requirement may make it uneconomical compared to dry process.


Raw materials are homogenized by crushing,  grinding and blending so that approximately 80% of the raw material pass a No.200 sieve. Mixture is fed into kiln & burned in a dry state. This process provides considerable savings in fuel consumption and water usage but the process is dustier compared to wet process that is more efficient than grinding.


In the kiln, water from the raw material is driven off and  limestone is decomposed into lime and Carbon Dioxide.

limestone  =        lime + Carbon Dioxide

In the burning zone, portion of the kiln, silica  and alumina from the clay undergo a solid state chemical reaction with lime to produce calcium aluminate.

silica & alumina + lime    =  calcium aluminate

The rotation and shape of kiln allow the blend to flow down the kiln, submitting it to gradually increasing temperature. As the material moves through hotter regions in the kiln, calcium silicates are formed. These products, that are black or greenish black in color are in the form of small pellets, called cement clinkers. Cement clinkers are hard, irregular and ball shaped particles about 18mm in diameter. The cement clinkers are cooled to about 150ºF (51ºC) and stored in clinker silos.

When needed, clinker are mixed with 2-5%  gypsum to retard the setting time of cement when it is mixed with water. Then, it is grounded to a fine powder and then the cement is stored in storage bins or  cement silos or bagged. Cement bags should be stored on pallets in a dry place.